Gimme a Break


It’s fall break, y’all.  Two of my favorite things.  Fall, my favorite time of year, when the weather gets a little cooler, beautiful colors are everywhere, and my husband’s schedule begins to slow ever so slightly.  And right now, this glorious time of year is combined with a break – that’s enough to make me spin around my living room like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.  It’s not just any break either- it’s two weeks.  Yep, here in Mt. Juliet, TN, or better known as Charlie Daniels country, we get two weeks.  I’m even taking some time off work – so no 5 am mornings, no 7:30 pm bedtimes, no homework – Gimme a Break and Hallelujah!

Now, I know I’m a little overexcited but you must understand that Kindergarten ruined my life.  Last year, when my son started Kindergarten, my whole world changed.  He starts school at 7:15.  Let me say that again.  7:15 – not arriving at 7:15 – hiney in your seat at 7:15.  And don’t even get me started on Kindergarten homework – that’s right people – homework.  Kindergarten is no longer taking naps, ABC’s, and walking in a line.  It’s reading, math, and the never ending sight words.  I’ll go ahead an make a public service announcement: Preschool required!!!  Now, I knew this in advance thanks to my sisters who sacrifice their lives daily teaching and principling elementary school, so I spent good shoe money on preschool.  Somehow, we made it through and now we are knee-deep in first grade.  There are new sight words, common core math that no one understands, and reading.  Oh, the reading.  Don’t get me wrong, I want my son to read, and read well, but I’ll be the first to admit that first grade reading is painful.  I believe that prisoners should have to read with first graders as punishment.  Can you imagine?  Your sentence is prison and every afternoon you must read a 60 page book – three times – with a first grader – the prisons would be empty.

So needless to say, I’m lovin fall break – I’m sitting on my comfy sofa in my PJ’s at 9am sipping coffee like it’s my job.  My nails are freshly polished in beautiful black which always makes me feel like I’m a rebel who really has her life together.  But next week the polish will be chipped and I’ll be stumbling to the coffee pot at the break of dawn, cursing the alarm clock and the hateful man who invented it (no way a woman came up with that horrible sound).  But…this week I will rest!

Rest, what a concept, in a world that praises productivity, long-hours, and more, more, more.  Just turn on your TV, open a newspaper, or take a look at social media and you will see a lot of work and almost no rest.  Sure, there a plenty of vacay pictures with beautiful families on the beach in matching outfits – but, please, I’ve been there.  Trying to get everyone to dress the same, look the same way and smile is not restful.  Lets talk about real rest – the kind that frees your mind, resets your spirit, and reminds you who you are and why you are on this planet.

In Exodus, the bible talks about resting on the seventh day.  I think most Christians consider this Sunday, when they attend church.  Personally, I believe God has much deeper meaning – I think the example of “a day” of rest encourages us to be intentional and plan our rest.  Take a time-out, a planned break, a mini-vacay from life, if you will, to reflect and just be.  Our lives are so hurried and rushed that if we don’t take this time, we may forget about God’s goodness, his blessings, where we have been, and where we are going.

Isaiah 30:15 states that “in repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength”.  What?  Yep, that’s right – your salvation is not in work and hurry – your strength is not in loudness and chaos.  Salvation and trust comes from repentance, rest and quiet.  Even if you’re not a Christian, this makes sense, right?  Work, hurry, chaos, more, more, more does not provide rest, comfort and peace for your soul.  The chaos makes us blind to the greater plan for our lives.  Its a vicious cycle, really – work more, do more, make more, be more – where do we then find time to live the life we were created for.  And, if our salvation and strength is in rest and quiet, but we have created no time for those things, no wonder we live defeated, over-committed, underwhelmed, weary, stressed out lives.  We’re exhausted!!!

So here’s a few ways that I try to find rest in the midst of a hectic life…..

  • I try to plan times where I can physically and mentally rest – most often these two things do not go together for me.  Physically, I nap and sleep late on Saturday mornings.  My mental rest, however, is working in my yard, walking through an antique store, random walks in the nail polish aisle at Walgreens, etc.  During these times, I think and pray – Yes, I’m just walking aimlessly through Walgreens thinking and praying.
  • When I’m stressed at work, I walk outside for a minute or two usually on my lunch break.  I take deep breaths, look at my surroundings and just purposefully reflect on something other than chaos and myself.  When I’m stressed at home, this place is the bathroom – my kids probably think I have a digestive problem.  Warning: in the bathroom, close your eyes or you may be compelled to clean – outside: eyes open, bathroom: eyes closed, Got it?  Good.
  • I turn off my radio on the way to and from work.  This is sometimes the only time I am truly alone all day.  It’s quiet and I love it.
  • I’ve started taking my vacation days.  This is new to me.  I used to keep weeks of vacation days in case something “bad” happened.  I still keep enough for emergencies but this year, in particular, I’m trying to plan days off to connect with family, friends and rest.
  • I plan time to turn off my TV, my phone, and  stay away from social media intentionally.  For me, this is important not only because it wastes a lot of time but also because these things cloud my mind and sometimes, for me, create a comparison game where I never win.

Don’t get me wrong – I believe in hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears, but all of those things are meaningless if my soul is empty from exhaustion.  In rest, I find my comfort, my peace and my salvation.  In quiet, I find strength to go a little further, risk a little more, reach beyond myself, and trust deeply.  So “Gimme a Break, ‘Cause I sure need one”.

Mary Ann






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